A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.
Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.
Please note: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material, including endnotes, will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
A Note from Hachette Audio
We are deeply honored to be the audio publisher of David Foster Wallace's works, and are keenly aware of the great responsibility that attends the privilege. We felt that it was important to make Infinite Jest accessible in the audio format as soon as we were able, and are gratified to find that there is an audience that has been waiting for just this occasion.
Some early listeners have been disappointed that the novel's endnotes are currently available only in text form, to be read. Choosing to include the endnotes as a downloadable PDF file, rather than as a recording by the narrator, was a difficult decision for all involved, and we debated different options at length before beginning production. The audio format allows us great opportunities to showcase Wallace's love of language and grammatical dexterity, to illuminate characters and their relationships, and to bring out some of the unique humor inherent in his work. However, there are also certain limitations to the format, and we needed let go of some of our preconceived notions about the form of Infinite Jest, as we must when we adapt any complex work to audio.
The compromise we ended up with was heavily influenced by practical concerns, especially those regarding the limitations of current technology. Because some of the endnotes are pages-long digressions, if we had them read in line with the main narrative, we would have run the risk of making the already complex story unfollowable for listeners. In the end, we decided the audiobook would flow best by having the endnotes indicated by number throughout the narrative by an additional narrator. However, we acknowledge that these choices may not work for all listeners. Accordingly, our future plans are to produce the endnotes as an additional, stand-alone audio piece.
©2006 David Foster Wallace (P)2012 Hachette
“[A]n exhilarating, breathtaking experience. This book teems with so much life and death, so much hilarity and pain, so much gusto in the face of despair that one cheers for the future of our literature.” (Newsday)
"[A] postmodern saga of damnation and salvation…resourceful, hilarious, intelligent, and unique.” (The Atlantic Monthly)
"[C]ompulsively entertaining… one of the big talents of his generation, a writer of virtuosic skills who can seemingly do anything.” (New York Times)
"The Pale King" was my first exposure to the writing of David Foster Wallace and I liked it.
Most reviews of "Infinite Jest" on Audible complained a great deal about not having the "footnotes", several claiming that, without them, the book was not worth listening to. But, I took a shot, anyway. And I was blown away. Sean Pratt's narration may have been the key to my enjoyment. His delivery made music of Wallace's words. Of course, the plot wanders and the characters are multitude and their narratives come flying abruptly out of left field and it seems like no plot thread is ever tied up, ever. And, It takes some time and mental gymnastics to see the fabric of the story(s). But the overall effect, for me, was brilliant. In this case, an American masterpiece of the spoken word. As good a collaboration of author and narrator is I've ever heard. It ended far too soon. I don't know if I would have been able to read it and feel the same. .
Putting books on the back burner.
When I was asking my friends on what I should read next, they suggested "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace. When the book was first published in 1996, the audio version wasn't available and to be honest, I was having too much fun in the 90's to be reading. I remembered seeing this author in interviews and wanting to dive in this book. Fast forward to the present day, I finally got through this book and this is the best title that I've read thus far in the year. David Foster Wallace's humor is my taste of comedy, but his story about addiction and depression is profound.
I've read many books on addictions and how they overcame their problem by taking the steps, and even though the story of "Infinite Jest" is fictional, the characters seems to be more realistic with their addictions and depressions. If you are reading this review and thinking that this book is just all about addictions, I'm not doing justice to the novel.
Addiction is just one part of the story in "Infinite Jest." Somehow, the author incorporated most of the seven deadly sins through his characters. The sins aren't obvious while you are reading, but they should come to you once you get through the entire story. I'm not going to give examples from the book because I don't like to give spoilers, but DFW is a remarkable author.
It took me less than two weeks to finish the book. 56 hours went by quickly. Many of my friends said that it took them a long time to get to the last page. You really should form a group together to discuss each "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment." It will help you decipher each chapter and it is the best way to understand DFW's writing.
While I was reading, my friends and I would have discussions of each main parts of the story and it helped me comprehend the entire concept better.
One of my friends mentioned that David Foster Wallace's storytelling is not linear with the traditional storyline. I happen to agree with her and compare his writing to David Mitchel in "Cloud Atlas." Both of their styles are similar to each other and want to draw me more to their other titles.
I don't remember characters' names in any books that I read. My mind doesn't pay attention to names. I see characters as figures on a spreadsheet, like A, B, C, and so on. In "Infinite Jest," the characters' actions are so bizarre that you can't forget where you left off.
There is one major flaw in the audio version. The endnotes aren't included in the audio and I can see why the publisher omitted them out. They are included in a pdf, but trying to listen to the story and scrolling through 98 pages of notes is hard to do.
Luckily, the listener can purchase the endnotes separately in audio. I will be listening to them after I finish this review because they are the most important part of the story.
This year is almost over and I've read my fair amount of titles, but "Infinite Jest" is what I was looking for to break up the same repertoire of subjects in my library.
I would recommend "Infinite Jest" to anyone where your thought bubbles are in a disarray like mine.
It is rare that I read a book that makes me angry because it so good. I'm reading this, thinking to myself "I wish I could write like this. I could NEVER write like this."
I am not even halfway finished and I already love this book. Everything about it is beautifully done; the characters, the story, the plot, the prose, everything. It is a tragedy that David Foster Wallace took his own life and left the world bereft of any more of his work. It is clear that the man had many demons of his own to deal with and that those demons finally were too much to handle.
I have to thank the author Michael Chabon for introducing this book to me in CHabon's "Manhood For Amateurs". I have no idea how I never had read any Wallace before now, but I plan on devouring any of his work I can get my hands on.
There are a lot of reviews on here that say that there aren't endnotes. There are, they are just in a PDF that you download separately. Unfortunately, they are not in audio, but they are there.
This is an amazing and beautiful piece of literature, and I don't use that word very often, that is both humorous and poignant. It evoked so many different emotions from me as I listened that at times I was a little breathless.
before I became a believer. Of course I mean David Foster Wallace’s work, and I think I went about it backward—starting with “The Broom of the System,” then on to “The Pale King” (discussed here in an earlier writing), and finally, “Infinite Jest”—the novel that jettisoned him into stellar notoriety, and the topic of this post.
As always, I entered Wallace’s epic novel bewildered. So many self-absorbed characters and, really, uninteresting topics (prep-school tennis? mixed with a Canadian terrorist group bent on finding a film with proven potential to control the world, a recovering drug addict’s profound fear of becoming addicted again while recovering from devastating wounds from being hurled into an impromptu street fight, and oh so more countless plots and subplots). And yet, they all were actually absorbing and insightful. The writing was over-arching in social criticism, humor, and inexplicable inter-weavings, not to mention iconic craftsmanship and captivating writing that summons one back to the page as if a spell had been cast. And so, after hours and hours of reading, I was sorry to see them all go away and at the same time was abrim with angst knowing that in the last 100 pages there was no way in hell Wallace was going to button-up these loosely threaded stories with their overwrought personalities, leaving my recovering-virgo personality to twist in the wind, wondering.
I am grateful for having the perseverance of picking up the big tome. Having now become a believer, I grieve that other than the remaining writings I collected, there will be no more.
Yes, I liked this story. It made me laugh. It made me weep. I sent gift copies to people I love, and I sent a copy to someone I hate. They deserved it. I think some of the best stories might for instance be set in a tennis school, or at AAmeetings. I sure learned a lot about depression and drugs and stuff, as well as lots of new words like "annular" and ummmm, Annular and well yes, annular. Plus some others.
This story was interesting for me because I could listen to it. It was like being told a story, or like my big brother who I look up to, not hitting me with a tennis ball, kind of bouncing it on my head, over and over and telling me that he thinks post modern is over and we are now definitely post post modern and that we should all be playing virtual eschaton and watching out that we don't get too clinically depressed because if we do, we will become addicted to reading very long novels where the author makes fun of us for reading what he writes before he takes his own life, to show us he meant what he said about it being all one big joke. Seriously!
At 56 hours, I heard a guy down the valley couldn't stop and perished of dehydration. So I always keep a glass of Gatorade next to me just in case I get too engrossed.
Dear David. Thank you. We will miss you.
This is a great title that sounds better spoken than it looks on page.
However, Infinite Jest contains nearly 400 footnotes that convey invaluable plot information. The audiobook does NOT contain these, although it does contain references to them. This means that this audiobook is an excellent companion to the text, but you WILL NOT understand the narrative if attempt to only listen to this audiobook, while never purchasing the text and checking the footnotes.
The way I did it, Infinite Jest's 1000+ pages of 8 point font with no white space on the page is awful hard to make it through. Listening to the audiobook greatly sped up what would have been a six month reading project. Alternate this with reading.
I thought the performance by Sean Pratt was just excellent. He made each character come alive (with, for example, different voices even for the characters that didn't have obvious accents). I looked for other fiction titles by this reader.
I also liked the way that footnotes were dealt with compared to the alternative of inserting them in a different voice. It's never going to be perfect, dealing with footnotes, because some readers read each footnote right when it appears, some never read them, and others catch up on them periodically. I can see how this would not be ideal for fastidious or visually impaired listeners, but for a listener like me, who would go to the footnotes periodically while reading, this setup was perfect.
The book itself I enjoyed enough to reread in print. I am catching a lot more of the humor this way--already familiar with the characters and more patient with the footnotes--but the more touching, emotional aspects of the book were well conveyed in audio. I would recommend the audiobook to the any reader who tried and failed to "get through" Infinite Jest in print. The audio was a pleasure to listen to for the full 56+ hours, which is saying a lot.
The book is wonderful. The reader is masterful. The endnotes are not there. Unless you count the pdf files. I listen to audiobooks while I work, which does not afford me the luxury of being able to stop and read each endnote as they occur in the book.
I am not a scholar of Infinite Jest. If these were your average endnotes I wouldn't care that they were missing. I listen purely for entertainment. But the endnotes are a huge part of this book. Who ever thought to remove them made a big big mistake.
I still enjoyed the book. But I'd recommend NOT buying it until this endnote fiasco is resolved.
At the top, except for the frustration over having to run to the book to read the endnotes.
He captured Wallace's narration voice and every character's voice perfectly. This is probably the greatest performance of a book I've ever listened to (and I've listened to about a hundred).
Both, and it made me curse every time I missed an endnote.
Anyone willing to listen to 56 hours of this wouldn't mind listening to another 10 in order to hear all the endnotes. I think it was a terrible mistake not to include them. Other than that, this is one of the greatest books ever written, and one of the greatest performances by a reader.
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